Amid persistent concerns that Amazon’s army of new workers will displace low-income Arlingtonians, county leaders plan to redirect their existing investments in affordable housing to better serve the areas impacted by the new headquarters — but the county won’t be upping its financial commitment to spurring the construction of reasonably priced homes.
While critics of Arlington’s decision to court Amazon’s HQ2 have focused on everything from the headquarters’ potential impact on county schools to its transportation systems, the tech giant’s impact on housing prices has perhaps drawn the most scrutiny of all.
The D.C. region has already seen a housing crunch in recent years, and all manner of experts have theorized that the arrival of Amazon’s thousands of highly paid workers will only worsen the county’s challenges. Accordingly, Virginia’s offer to Amazon includes a frequent emphasis on the region’s commitment to addressing local housing woes, and it touts a $150 million investment in affordable housing by Arlington and Alexandria over the next decade. The state has also pledged massive investments in existing programs through its Virginia Housing Development Authority.
But the details of the proposal contain a bit more nuance. The county won’t achieve that affordable housing investment by increasing its annual contributions to various housing-focused programs; rather, it will earmark about a third of those funds for projects creating affordable homes in Crystal City, Pentagon City and along Columbia Pike.
“We’re hoping that will help us create 1,000 new committed affordable units in that area,” County Board Chair Katie Cristol told ARLnow. “And that’s joined by the new commitment from the state, so we’re clearly making this a priority.”
The county currently sends about $21 million to affordable housing efforts each year, county economic development spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell said. That includes just over $14 million to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund, a loan program designed to encourage affordable developments, and contributions to other loan repayment programs for low-income renters.
That means about $7 million each year will be dedicated to housing affordability programs impacting the neighborhoods surrounding Amazon’s new headquarters. Cristol also hopes to increase that amount as new tax revenues from the company flow into county coffers, though Arlington will need a few years to truly feels those revenue impacts.
Michelle Winters, executive director of the Arlington-based Alliance for Housing Solutions, was hoping to see the county step up its total commitment to affordable housing funds immediately, not simply move money around. She points out that, even with the county’s existing efforts, Arlington has seen dramatic declines in the amount of both “committed affordable” homes, where housing prices are controlled, and “market rate” affordable homes, which are designed with prices to match the current housing environment.
“It’s going take additional analysis to determine if this will actually be enough to meet the needs arising from Amazon and other growth in the region,” Winters said.
More intense Amazon skeptics, however, believe that anything short of a full-court press from the communities surrounding the new headquarters will spell disaster for renters in the area. State Del. Lee Carter (D-50th District) fully expects that Arlingtonians priced out of the county will soon flock to outer suburbs like his Manassas-area district, causing a ripple effect throughout the Northern Virginia region.
“I live in a one bedroom apartment in Manassas; my rent’s going to go up, and I’m going to get priced out of my own district,” Carter said. “It speaks to the flawed conventional wisdom around economic development. It says that more jobs are always good: but at what cost?”
County officials don’t see the situation as being quite so dire, however. They note that up to 20 percent of the workers Amazon plans to hire likely already live in the area, and that employees will arrive gradually in Arlington over the next few years, not simply show up all at once and disrupt the housing market overnight.
Arlington leaders also believe they’ll have more tools at their disposal to address housing affordability by the time Amazon starts truly ramping up its hiring.
One key way the county earns money for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) is by forcing developers to make contributions to it as they win local approvals for massive new projects. Amazon won’t be building much in Arlington right away, choosing to move into some existing space in Crystal City to start — that’s an outcome affordable housing advocates feared, as the company won’t be required to chip into the AHIF until it starts sketching out construction plans.
But County Board member Erik Gutshall points out that Amazon has big plans for future construction in the area, which will eventually result in “straight contributions” to the AHIF. Amazon has already purchased large tracts of land in Pentagon City from developer JBG Smith, and could opt to fully re-develop some of the existing buildings it’s leasing someday.
“Over time, everything is going to be new,” said Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey. “They’re not just going to stay in existing 1960s buildings. Permanently, they’re building new stuff.”
Yet Winters argues that programs like the AHIF can only do so much to create new affordable housing in the county. She credits the county for some of its work to preserve some older, moderately priced homes, but urged officials to do more, with greater urgency.
“While additional subsidy and investment is absolutely needed, it’s not the only thing that it’s needed,” Winters said. “We absolutely need to ramp up the pace housing is added to the county.”
Other urbanists are willing to call for even more transformative changes to make that happen, now that Amazon has arrived.
Or, independent of Amazon's decision, all localities in DC metro need to build more housing, *esp* in wealthy nhoods w/ good schools, transit, and jobs. That means North Arlington, Ward 3, Bethesda, etc. https://t.co/I3rg9A8egE
— Jenny Schuetz (@jenny_schuetz) November 13, 2018
Cristol acknowledged that “the one thing we can’t address through public policy is speculation in the market,” and early estimates suggest that speculation will be no laughing matter — McEarney Associates, a group of Northern Virginia realtors, released a report estimating that overall home prices will rise anywhere from 20 to 30 percent in the wake of Amazon’s announcement, with appreciation rates “north of 15 percent” in the immediate vicinity of the new headquarters.
Accordingly, Cristol does see a need to “meet the supply challenge,” but she’d prefer to double down on some of the county’s existing efforts to loosen zoning rules for “accessory dwelling units” or allow more renovations to older duplexes, rather than pursue more dramatic changes.
“We need to increase our urgency in expanding housing options among that ‘missing middle’ housing stock,” Cristol said.
Police say the man was spotted with his pants down, masturbating near the N. Ohio Street bridge over I-66 around 2:40 p.m. last Saturday (Nov. 10).
However, by the time officers made to the area, they weren’t able to find him. They’re describing him as “a white male, 20-30 years old, wearing a red or orange hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses.”
Full details from a county crime report:
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2018-11100143, 6200 block of 12th Road N. At approximately 2:40 p.m. on November 10, police were dispatched to the report of an exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victims were walking on the W&OD trail when they observed an unknown male suspect near the Ohio Street Bridge with his pants down allegedly masturbating. Arriving officers canvased the area with negative results. The suspect is described as a white male, 20-30 years old, wearing a red or orange hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses.
And here are other notable incidents from the past week of crime reports:
ROBBERY, 2018-11120026, 1300 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 2:58 a.m. on November 12, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined that earlier in the night, the victim was inside his residence when he heard a knock at the door. The victim went to investigate and, upon opening the door, was sprayed with an unknown substance and assaulted by an unknown suspect, causing him to lose consciousness. The suspect(s) stole cash and items of value and fled the scene prior to police arrival. The victim was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.
ROBBERY, 2018-11130247, 1200 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 9:15 p.m. on November 13, police were dispatched to the report of an assault just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that two male suspects entered a business and began selecting large quantities of merchandise. When confronted by an employee, one suspect took the employee’s cell phone and assaulted him. The suspects fled the scene with the cell phone and merchandise prior to police arrival. A canvas of the area yielded negative results. Suspect One is described as a black male, approximately 20-30 years old, 5’9″, average build, with medium length braided black hair with highlights at the eneds, wearing a gray or black jacket with the hood up and blue jeans. Suspect Two is described as a black male, approximately 5’9″, average build, bald, wearing glasses, a black jacket and black jeans. The investigation is ongoing.
BURGLARY, 2018-11120043, 3500 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 7:25 a.m. on November 12, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 4:30 p.m. on November 10 and 5:30 a.m. on November 12, an unknown suspect gained entry to a construction site and stole items of value. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.
ATTEMPTED GRAND LARCENY, 2018-11110279, 3000 block of S. Randolph Street. At approximately 11:50 p.m. on November 11, police were dispatched to the report of an in-progress tampering with auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victims heard noise and screams outside. When they looked outside, they allegedly observed an unknown male suspect inside their vehicle with the lights on. A passerby arriving home in the area made contact with the suspect and told the suspect to exit the vehicle, which he complied with. The suspect fled into a nearby building prior to police arrival. Arriving officers established a perimeter, located the suspect and took him into custody without incident. Jherson Cuadra, 21, of Alexandria, Va., was arrested and charged with Attempted Grand Larceny: Motor Vehicle Theft and Tampering with Vehicle.
UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2018-11090099, 1700 block of N. Edgewood Street. At approximately 9:56 a.m. on November 9, police were dispatched to the late report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 1:00 p.m. on November 8 and 8:45 p.m. on November 9, an unknown suspect(s) gained entry to a vacant residence. Nothing was reported missing. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.
BURGLARY, 2018-11090326, 1900 block of N. Van Buren Street. At approximately 10:37 p.m. on November 9, police were dispatched to the late report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., an unknown suspect(s) forced entry to a residence and stole items of value. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.
ATTEMPTED ABDUCTION, 2018-11080251, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 7:07 p.m. on November 8, police were dispatched to the report of an attempted abduction. Upon arrival, it was determined that a verbal dispute between the victim and known suspect escalated and became physical. The victim attempted to use her phone to call for help, however, the suspect allegedly took it from her and began forcing her into his vehicle. Two witnesses came to the aid of the victim and challenged the suspect, who released the victim and left the scene in his vehicle. The suspect then returned and a verbal dispute took place over the victim’s cell phone as she retrieved it from the suspect. The suspect then fled in his vehicle prior to police arrival. Warrants for the suspect were obtained for Attempted Abduction, Assault & Battery, and Preventing and Emergency Call.
RECOVERED STOLEN VEHICLE, 2018-11080180, I-66 WB at N. Sycamore Street. At approximately 2:42 p.m. on November 8, an officer on routine patrol was alerted to a License Plate Reader hit on a stolen vehicle. With the assistance of Virginia State Police, a traffic stop was conducted and the driver was taken into custody without incident. Demetrius Callaham, 29, of Washington, D.C. was arrested and charged with Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.
ROBBERY (late), 2018-11070119, 800 block of S. Dinwiddie Street. At approximately 11:43 a.m. on November 7, police responded to the late report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 1:30 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. on November 2, the victim was walking in the area when he was approached by an unknown suspect, who attempted to engage him in conversation. The victim was then grabbed by his hood by a second suspect and assaulted before the suspects stole his personal belongings and fled on foot. The victim suffered non life-threatening injuries that required medical treatment. Suspect One is described as a black male in his 20’s, approximately 5’11”, with a skinny build and short, curly hair, wearing a black hoodie, a black or white shirt and black jeans. Suspect Two is described as a black male in his 20’s, approximately 5’8″-5’10”, heavy set, with short, curly hair, wearing a black hoodie, black or white shirt and black jeans. The investigation is ongoing.
BURGLARY (late), 2018-11070081, 200 block of N. Wayne Street. At approximately 10:00 a.m. on November 7, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 12:50 p.m. on November 5 and 8:00 p.m. on November 6, an unknown suspect gained entry to a residence and stole an undisclosed amount of cash. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.
For pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike, Crystal City has never been the easiest neighborhood to navigate — and Amazon’s looming arrival in the neighborhood has stoked fears that things could get worse in the area long before they get better.
But now that the tech giant has officially picked Arlington for its new headquarters, county officials are free to unveil their grand plans for allaying those concerns and fundamentally transforming transportation options along the Crystal City-Pentagon City-Potomac Yard corridor.
Virginia’s proposed deal with Amazon calls for the pairing of state dollars with money from both Arlington and Alexandria to make a variety of projects long envisioned for the area a reality — so long as the tech giant holds up its end of the bargain and creates targeted numbers of new jobs, of course.
It adds up to a complex mix of funding sources that defies easy explanation, but would be in service of a massive shift in the transportation network surrounding the newly christened “National Landing.” And, as last week’s nightmarish traffic conditions created by the shutdown of the Crystal City and National Airport Metro stations helped prove, the county is in desperate need of an upgrade in the area.
“All of these plans which been long gestating without a path to realization, they’re all going to come together,” County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey told ARLnow. “All the great things we’ve diagrammed on paper now have a path to reality.”
The main transportation projects included in the pitch to Amazon are:
- A second, eastern entrance to the Crystal City Metro station
- A second, southwestern entrance to the proposed Potomac Yard Metro station
- A new pedestrian bridge connecting Crystal City to Reagan National Airport
- An expansion of the Crystal City-Potomac Yard bus rapid transit system
- Improvements to Route 1 through Crystal City and Pentagon City
“Many of these we’ve already included in our prior commitments, whether it was our [10-year Capital Improvement Plan] or other long-range planning documents,” said County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “But we pulled these together as a way of saying, ‘This is our overarching vision for the area.'”
Certainly, the aforementioned projects were all on various county wish lists over the years — the Crystal City Transitway expansion to Pentagon City is perhaps the most developed of any of the proposals, with the county convening a public meeting on the matter just last week.
The difference is that many of the projects have largely lacked the necessary funding to move forward. The county still needs another $15 million to fund the Transitway project, which is now set to come from the state, and the other efforts need substantially more money than that.
The second entrance at the Crystal City Metro station has been a particularly challenging project for the county.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a regional body doling out funding for transportation projects, recently awarded Arlington only a small shred of the funding it was looking for to move the station forward. The county’s gloomy revenue picture previously forced Arlington to push the project off into the long-term future, and it remained a very open question whether the second entrance would score highly enough on state metrics to win outside funding.
Those concerns vanish virtually all at once for the county, and that could be quite good news for both Crystal City residents and Amazon’s future workers. Though the exact details need to be worked out, the new entrance would be located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Crystal Drive and 18th Street S., with $82.5 million of the project’s $90 million price tag coming from the state through the Amazon deal.
Cristol hopes the project will “transform the beating heart of Crystal City” and encourage its new residents to rely on Metro. She notes that the Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations have seen a combined 29 percent drop in ridership since 2010, as the military and federal agencies moved out of the area, and hopes thoughtful transit strategies around Amazon’s arrival will reverse that trend.
Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the transit advocacy-focused Coalition for Smarter Growth, added that a second entrance will help the area manage demand as thousands of employees flock to one of Metro’s sleepier stations.
“By having entrances at each end of the platform, you’re reducing the people congestion at escalators and gates, which is huge,” Schwartz said. “And we know that walking distance makes a big difference in how many people use transit. So to the degree we can shorten it, we should do it.”
Schwartz also hopes the new entrance will provide better accessibility to the area’s Virginia Railway Express station (located a few minutes’ walk up Crystal Drive) for anyone looking to reach the more distant sections of D.C., or Northern Virginia’s outer suburbs. The VRE is even weighing an expansion of the station in the coming years, which would put an entrance directly across from the second Metro access point.
County Board member Erik Gutshall points out that the proposed bridge to DCA would land in just about the same spot. A feasibility study backed by the Crystal City Business Improvement District suggested that an office building at 2011 Crystal Drive would make the most sense for the pedestrian connection, which Gutshall notes also matches up with an entrance to the Mt. Vernon Trail.
All of that could someday add up to a promising transit hub in the area, which developer (and future Amazon landlord) JBG Smith has already begun advertising in its marketing materials.
“You can bike, walk, ride VRE and ride Metro, all together,” Gutshall said.
The project will need about $36 million to become a reality, with $9.5 million chipped in from the state and the rest coming from Arlington and the NVTA.
The county will need even more cash for the Route 1 improvements: about $250 million in all, with $138.7 million coming from the state’s Amazon deal. The proposal doesn’t include a funding stream for the rest, but the changes could be quite substantial indeed.
The documents don’t lay out details beyond a goal of improving the “pedestrian improvements” on the road, but officials say a guide could be the changes detailed in the county’s Crystal City sector plan. Those plans involve bringing the highway to the same grade as other local roads, eliminating the soaring overpasses that currently block off large sections of the neighborhood.
“This may, in fact, lead to the total reimagining of Route 1,” Dorsey said.
In all, the county expects to spend about $360 million — about $222 million in already committed funding and $137 million in future grants — to fund transportation improvements in the area. The state’s total could one day go as high as $295 million, depending how many workers Amazon ends up hiring for the area.
The county’s commitment is large enough to give some local budget minders heartburn.
“Where will Arlington get $360+ million in transportation bond capacity — since we are bumping up against our credit limit for the next decade or more, without meeting all school needs?” local activist Suzanne Sundberg wrote in an email. “Raising the tax rate would be my first guess. We can probably expect to see our real estate taxes double over the next 15 years.”
County Manager Mark Schwartz has often warned about the strain on the county’s debt limit precipitated by recent fiscal pressures, and taxes may well go up on residents in the coming years, even with the Amazon revenue windfall.
But Dorsey waived those concerns away, noting that the county has long planned for the spending associated with many of these projects, and will have hefty state dollars to rely on for the rest.
“Our investments are already planned,” Dorsey said. “We’re not bringing anything new to the table.”
Opponents of the decision to change the name of Washington-Lee High School have long claimed the School Board improperly cast aside its established engagement process on the matter — but the school system has now provided its most robust rebuttal of those charges to date.
A trio of students at Washington-Lee are hoping to block the school’s renaming with a lawsuit targeting the School Board and other top Arlington Public Schools officials, arguing primarily that the Board rushed a vote on the issue and failed to follow its proscribed process for accepting public comments on the name change.
The Board and its lawyers have already asked a judge to toss out the suit, claiming that the question of whether Board members followed their proposed engagement schedule is irrelevant in the legal proceedings. But, in a legal memorandum filed in late October, the APS lawyers argue extensively that the Board “properly followed its procedures in voting to rename W-L,” should the students’ legal challenge survive a judge’s scrutiny.
In short, name-change opponents have accused the Board of misleading the community by promising a two-step process, and not delivering; they argue the Board pledged to first revise its policy for naming all county schools, then consider whether to change Washington-Lee’s name specifically. Instead, the Board changed the naming policy, then voted to rename W-L all on the same night back in June.
The students backing the lawsuit, who have asked the court to withhold their names despite some giving on-camera interviews about the case, even claim a recording of their meeting with Board Vice Chair Tannia Talento bolsters those arguments. In that conversation, Talento did admit that “there was never any intentional engagement to the community about specifically changing [the name of] Washington-Lee.”
However, in the Oct. 26 motion, the School Board’s attorneys argue that name-change challengers have misunderstood what Board members promised to do.
The motion points specifically to the Board’s vote in October 2017 to adopt a four-stage process for drafting a new school naming policy. That process involved a staff committee identifying the names of schools that “may need to be considered for renaming” based on a revised policy governing school monikers, which ended up including W-L. Then, the Board agreed to “in tandem” adopt the new naming policy and “begin a renaming process for any schools that may need to be renamed.”
That means the lawyers believe Board followed its planned process during its June meeting, despite the claims to the contrary.
The Board’s attorneys do note that Superintendent Patrick Murphy did proposed a “modified procedure and timeline” for the process in January, which did allow for a separate round of community engagement and Board vote on a potential W-L renaming.
However, the lawyers write that “at no point did the School Board vote to adopt this alternate procedure and/or its accompanying timeline,” making it merely a proposal and not set policy. The attorneys even go on to describe Murphy’s January plan as a “non-binding, contingency plan” that “never supplanted the naming process or its accompanying timeline that had been previously adopted by the School Board in fall 2017.”
“Plaintiffs’ specific allegations that the School Board gave no advance public notice that the revised naming policy would be considered for a vote — and that the amendment was not circulated to the public in advance of its June 7, 2018 meeting — are both factually contradicted by the plaintiffs’ own amendment complaint and exhibits, and are legally irrelevant in any event,” the lawyers wrote.
Certainly, there are a variety of other legal arguments that the Board’s lawyers make to justify their earlier request that the case be dismissed. They believe the students don’t have standing to sue — as all of them are currently seniors, and won’t be attending the school by the time it’s set to be renamed in fall 2019 — and that the lawsuit improperly targets Board members and school leaders in their personal capacities, rather than the Board as a whole.
The attorneys also point out that a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge dismissed a similar legal challenge to the renaming of J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church earlier this year. That school is now known as Justice High School.
The students and their attorney now have until Dec. 7 to file a motion rebutting the Board’s claims. A judge is set to hold a hearing on whether the case can go forward on Dec. 19.
Meanwhile, the Board has pressed ahead with the renaming process, in the hopes of voting on a new name for Washington-Lee next month.
Amazon’s new headquarters will fundamentally transform Arlington in the years to come, but county officials are hoping to reassure residents that the area won’t change in the blink of an eye.
Instead, Arlington leaders are painting the arrival of the tech giant — and the 25,000 workers set to someday occupy its new office space — as a development that will shape the county’s economic landscape over time, rather than overnight. And, they hope, that will give the county time to prepare accordingly.
“This is not going to feel like a tsunami of new people on our streets or kids in our schools,” County Board Chair Katie Cristol said during a question-and-answer session live-streamed on Facebook last night (Tuesday).
Critics of the county’s courtship of Amazon have long feared the impact that thousands of highly paid workers arriving in the region could have on everything from home prices to school overcrowding. But Arlington leaders have often countered that the region is experiencing dramatic growth at the moment, and seems set to see even more in the future, meaning that Amazon’s arrival might not seem especially out of place.
Now that Jeff Bezos and company have made the big decision, targeting Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard for half of its proposed second headquarters, officials remain confident in those predictions. Cristol, for instance, noted Tuesday that the tech company could draw as much as 15 to 20 percent of its new workforce from current county residents.
“They located here because they want access to the tech talent we have here,” Cristol said.
As for the rest of the new Amazon staffers, Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins pointed out that they won’t be arriving on the county’s doorstep next week, or even next month. Under the terms of the company’s proposed deal with the state, Amazon would only hire about 400 workers for the new Arlington campus next year.
That number will ramp up sharply over time, however, leaping to 1,180 new staffers in 2020 and then 1,964 workers the year after. But Hoskins noted that the pace of change would’ve been even more dramatic had Amazon stuck with its original plan to house all 50,000 workers in one city, rather than splitting “HQ2” between Arlington and New York City.
“After February, when the deal is set to be approved [by the Board], you’ll see the first employees arriving,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “Beyond that, I don’t think people will see a lot different in first year… It’ll become more noticeable a few years out.”
For parents nervous about how many kids those new workers will bring with them, Cristol is also optimistic that the school system will be able to handle the influx of students. She expects that the county will only see two to three additional students in each school per year, and that’s only when Amazon fully ramps up hiring in the coming years.
Depending on how the county is calculating that figure, such an increase would work out to anywhere from 70 to 105 new students enrolled in Arlington Public Schools each year, at a time when the school system is already struggling with severe financial pressures to match rising enrollment.
“That’s not nothing,” Cristol said. “But compared to the 500 students per year that APS is already adding, it’s really manageable.”
But Schwartz noted that, under the county’s revenue-sharing agreement with APS, roughly half of the tax revenue that Amazon generates will flow into the school system’s coffers. He estimates a $315 million increase in tax revenue over the life of the county’s deal with Amazon, which beats county projections by about $160 million between now and 2030.
Of course, Schwartz says the county will still feel some pain in the short term. Though Amazon represents a tax windfall for Arlington, he warned that it will take time for the county to feel the benefits — and that means that painful measures like layoffs, service reductions and tax increases remain on the table for the county’s new budget.
“We’ve been through several difficult budget years and we have a couple more to bridge to where we’re going to be,” Schwartz said.
Cristol acknowledged that there are some “difficult short-term conversations” on the way in the county, particularly as Arlington tries to prepare for Amazon’s impact without the tax revenues it needs to fund necessary projects and services.
But she also pledged to be open to having those difficult discussions. Some Amazon skeptics have already called on the Board to hold multiple town halls focused on Amazon alone, and Cristol said officials plan to do so, and more.
“Let us know if you want us to come meet with your civic group,” Cristol said. “We plan to have many conversations in the community about this.”
A new bar and restaurant bound for the ground floor of the CEB Tower in Rosslyn is pushing back its opening date slightly, now aiming to start serving patrons next year.
The Metropolitan Hospitality Group, which also operates Circa Bistro in Clarendon, announced plans to bring a second “Open Road” restaurant to the area last summer. The firm had hoped to open it up sometime this fall, but MHG President Matt Carlin told ARLnow that “the permit process has definitely taken longer than we thought.”
But he says the project is still moving forward, and the company is “expecting our permit at the end of the month.”
“Then it will be approximately [a] six-month buildout,” Carlin wrote in an email. “And [we’re] hoping to open in May/June 2019.”
The company first brought the concept, which features a vast beer selection and Southern-style menu options, to Merrifield several years ago. However, Carlin says the Rosslyn location will be a bit different than the original.
The restaurant itself will be located in the plaza area directly in front of the building, with awnings and outdoor seating accompanying it. Then, below the plaza, MHG is also planning a separate bar attached to the restaurant dubbed “Salt,” which will be accessible via N. Lynn Street.
The tower itself is the largest building in Rosslyn, and only just opened last year. It’s currently in the process of adding new office tenants, and has already signed other retailers including Compass Coffee and Cava.
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Concerns about the wisdom of doling out millions in incentives to lure Amazon to Arlington have abounded ever since rumors first kicked up that the company could head to the county — but Tuesday’s celebration of the move in Pentagon City didn’t betray much trepidation among state and local leaders.
Instead, Gov. Ralph Northam and a cadre of others devoted the afternoon to hailing the tech giant’s decision to bring a new headquarters to Arlington as a transformative one for the region.
Crystal City and its surrounding neighborhoods have long struggled with a high office vacancy rate, ever since the military and other federal agencies fled the area years ago, a problem that vanished virtually as soon as Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s leaders tabbed the newly dubbed “National Landing” for half of their planned “HQ2.” Accordingly, the mood among local leaders was positively ebullient — even as they persistently sought to quell a nervous public’s fears about the company’s impact on the region.
“This proposal to Amazon represents a new model for economic development in the 21st century,” Northam told a crowd of more than hundred elected officials, business leaders and members of the media. “This recognizes the need to minimize impacts on the region… and these incentives we’ve proposed will generate a net positive return from day one.”
Certainly, no aspect of the county’s pursuit of the tech giant has attracted quite as much scrutiny as the incentive package it would offer to help Arlington stand out over the bevy of other suitors interested in earning Amazon’s attention. Critics from all along the political spectrum feared that the state and county could well give away so many tax breaks to the company as to make the project’s benefits on the local economy negligible at best.
But with the deal finally out in the open, after Amazon forced officials into silence for months, Arlington leaders are ready to make the case that they help broker a fair deal for the new headquarters.
“There’s a lot of people who had a worst-case scenario for what they expected to happen, and I think any clear, objective analysis shows that has not been realized,” County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey told ARLnow. “I don’t want to make this rosy; we’re going to have housing challenges, transportation challenges, land use challenges, we’re going to have to deal with all of that stuff. But hopefully people recognize the incentives aren’t crippling our commitment to our residents.”
In all, the state and county will combine to give Amazon about $819 million in tax breaks and other investments, with about $23 million in grant money coming from the county over the next 15 years. Arlington will pull that money away from an existing tax on hotel rooms for the $23 million, but all the incentives Amazon receives are contingent on it creating at least 25,000 jobs in the area over the coming years. The company could even reach more than 37,000 jobs by 2034.
However, when the company announced that it would be halving its initial proposal to bring 50,000 jobs to whichever area it selected for a new “HQ2”, cries grew louder that the state might be paying for only half of the investment it was initially promised.
Northam told reporters only that the state “had to make some modifications” in response to that development, but did not elaborate further. But even with Arlington splitting the new headquarters with Long Island City, he praised the deal for its potential to “diversify our economy” away from dependence on the federal government in a transformative way.
Arlington leaders certainly agree with that sentiment.
Victor Hoskins, director of Arlington Economic Development, remembers shouting “yahoo!” when he and his staff received confirmation of the good news last night. He added that the county recently learned that Apple has since started looking elsewhere for its new headquarters, eyeing Fairfax County instead, but that hardly matters given the size of the county’s Amazon deal.
“What’s great about it is it also opens the door to other businesses, because there are other businesses that like to follow Amazon, there are businesses that support Amazon, and there are some businesses that support the community,” Hoskins said. “All of that is going to happen too, and for us that’s the larger opportunity.”
Other officials pointed out that other nearby states put forward incentive packages worth billions, while Virginia’s offer primarily focuses on investments in transportation and education improvements. The deal with Amazon calls for new state investments in everything from Metro infrastructure to new high-tech education programs at Virginia Tech and George Mason University.
“We long ago thought, when we heard New Jersey and Maryland were putting billions of dollars on the table, there’s no way we’re going to compete with that,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. “Our package is 95 percent investments that we were going to do already, and there’s a small increment there in the [hotel tax], which is paid by people who visit Arlington and not people who live in Arlington, so we’re pretty happy with what we were able to do.”
Still, Dorsey acknowledged that county officials have plenty of work to do to make the sell to the community. The Board is set sign off on portions of its deal with Amazon in February, leaving plenty of time for critics to have their say.
“The taxpayer funded subsidy offers made to Amazon by the state of Virginia have been completely hidden, and there has yet to be any opportunity for local community input on this deal,” Roshan Abraham, an organizer with Our Revolution Arlington representing a coalition of opponents to Amazon’s plans, wrote in a statement. “We oppose a massive state gift to a company headed by the world’s richest person.”
The General Assembly will also get the chance to scrutinize the deal, though the exact details of how it might do so remain murky. A commission of both state senators and delegates convened to review major economic development proposals has already lent the deal its approval, but Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th District) says all 140 state lawmakers will get a chance to vote on the incentive package in next year’s legislative session. Some of the budget amendments to power the proposed investments included in the deal will also go before the General Assembly in the coming years, Hope added.
But Del. Lee Carter (D-50th District), an ardent critic of the company’s potential impact on the region, isn’t holding out much hope that his colleagues will do anything other than simply “rubber stamp” the deal Northam helped broker.
“This deal was put together in shady back rooms, not only out of the public’s sight, but out of the sight of most legislators,” Carter said. “That’s why I think the General Assembly needs to act very differently than it has in the past. We need to actually take the reins back and legislate, instead of letting executive branch do this for us.”
Ballston Quarter could open to customers as soon as this week, marking an unofficial end to the years-long redevelopment of the old Ballston Common mall.
Signs posted around the development’s elevator banks list Thursday (Nov. 15) as the site’s opening day. Specifically, the signs advertise that the two main floors of Ballston Quarter — including the first floor with “street-level access” and the second floor with an area dubbed “Instagram alley” — will open this week.
Meanwhile, the third level of the development, which includes Regal Cinemas and the newly rechristened Onelife Fitness, is now open to pedestrian traffic. However, many of the stores on the level remain under construction. The new “Quarter Market,” a 25,000-square-foot food hall, won’t open until February 2019, the signs say.
A spokeswoman for Forest City, the developer spearheading Ballston Quarter, did not respond to a request for comment to confirm those dates.
Forest City initially hoped to open at least some of the stores in the development by the end of September. But delays convinced the developer to aim for late October instead, yet Ballston Quarter has remained closed to public access since then, and Forest City has been conspicuously silent on the matter. The developer has also had to push back plans to open a refurbished pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd to next year.
However, Onelife Fitness, once known as the Sport&Health fitness club, has a grand opening event scheduled for tonight (Tuesday) following its $2 million renovation work and rebranding. Punch Bowl Social, a combination bar and entertainment venue, has also now formally announced plans for a Dec. 8 grand opening event, after posting signs around Ballston advertising the night earlier this month.
Forest City has previously announced a bevy of other shops, restaurants and other businesses set to move into the former mall. The development had roughly 75 percent of its space leased as of the end of September, and the mall has begun maintaining a full list of retailers on its website.
Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.
Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.
Tuesday, Nov. 13
Dominion Guild Merry Market
Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road)
Time: 5:30-9:30 p.m.
The Dominion Guild, Inc. will hold its two-day annual holiday boutique, the Merry Market. Tonight, Bubbly and Bites at the Merry Market, will be held from 5:30-9:30 p.m. All day shopping will be available on Nov. 14 from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Tuesday Evening Learning: Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam
Congregation Etz Hayim (2920 Arlington Blvd.)
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Engage in conversation with members of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam; the only community where equal numbers of Israeli Palestinians and Jews live and educate their children together. Co-sponsored by Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington and Kol Ami.
Wednesday, Nov. 14
Global SOF Foundation National Capital Region Reception*
Crystal Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Highway)
Time: 6-9 p.m.
This evening reception will bring together the Special Operations and Defense-focused community in the U.S. capital for a unique networking opportunity. This year’s Keynote Speaker is Susan M. Gordon, who currently serves as Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence.
Thursday, Nov. 15
Arlington’s Public Spaces Master Plan Open Door Event
Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street)
Time: 6:30-8 p.m.
Ask questions or share your thoughts about the final draft for Arlington’s Public Spaces Master Plan. Developed after more than three years of partnership with the PSMP Update Advisory Committee, numerous public engagement activities and more than 1,000 recorded community comments, the new plan will replace the 2005 Plan and is one of 11 critical components of Arlington County’s Comprehensive Plan.
Friday, Nov. 16
Sound Check Music Bingo
Mister Days Sports Rock Cafe (3100 Clarendon Blvd)
Time: 6-9 p.m.
It’s Bingo with a twist as we test your music knowledge. You have to figure out the song in 30 seconds and then match it to your bingo card. Get 5 in a row in any direction to win the game.
Jingle ARRGH the Way
Gunston Arts Center (2700 S. Lang Street)
Time: 7:30-9 p.m.
Encore Stage & Studio presents Jingle ARRGH the Way! A mysterious message left in the crow’s nest of their ship brings Captain Braid Beard and his pirate mates back to North Beach to seek out young Jeremy Jacob to help solve a riddle and find the Christmas treasure. Performances also scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday, Nov. 17
Jennifer Bush-Lawson 5K & Family Fun Day*
Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road)
Time: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
The 4th annual Jennifer Bush-Lawson 5K & Family Fun Day carries on the legacy of Jenn Lawson, a dedicated mom and runner who was passionate about making available to all mothers the same level of care she received for her own complicated pregnancies.
Arlington County’s E-CARE
1425 N. Quincy Street
Time: 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Residents can safely dispose of hazardous household materials (HHM), and recycle items including bikes, small metal items and much more. HHM are products found in the home that are flammable, corrosive, poisonous or potentially hazardous.
Lyon Park Crafts Fair
Lyon Park Community Center (414 N. Fillmore Street)
Time: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The event will feature handmade crafts and baked goods, with lunch served from 11 am to 1 pm. The Lyon Park not-just-for-Women’s Club will offer restaurant quality Reggiano Parmesan at below market prices. Preorders are recommended. For information, call 703.524.8531 or see the web site at www.Lyonpark.org.
*Denotes sponsored event
(Updated at 1 p.m.) Amazon’s arrival in Crystal City and Pentagon City seems set to completely transform developments already planned for the area.
The company’s big announcement today (Tuesday) that it would split its planned second headquarters between Arlington and New York City represents a major windfall for JBG Smith, the largest property owner across the newly dubbed “National Landing” — an area including Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard. The developer had long sought to fill thousands of square feet of vacant office space in the neighborhoods, much of which will now presumably be occupied by Amazon’s 25,000 workers attached to the project.
But renderings posted online suggest that JBG will also tweak developments already in progress to suit the tech giant’s needs. The new “NationalLanding.com” offers a virtual tour of the area, and promises that the developer “intends to accelerate the planning, entitlement, and development of several projects” to meet Amazon’s arrival in the area — the company expects to occupy anywhere from 4 million to 8 million square feet in office space over the life of the new headquarters.
JBG Smith writes on the site that it currently controls 6.2 million square feet of existing office space in the area, with another 7.4 million of “additional development opportunities in National Landing, excluding Amazon’s proposed land purchase.” In all, the company is planning the following moves in the area, from a press release:
- Lease approximately 500,000 square feet of existing office space at 241 18th Street S., 1800 S. Bell Street, and 1770 Crystal Drive.
- Purchase Pen Place and Met 6, 7, 8 land in JBG SMITH’s Future Development Pipeline with Estimated Potential Development Density of up to 4.1 million square feet. JBG SMITH has the right to time the expected closings of the land parcel sales to facilitate 1,031 exchange opportunities.
- Engage JBG SMITH as its development partner, property manager, and retail leasing agent.
- Commence predevelopment and planning of the first office building in 2018, with construction expected to begin in 2019.
The new renderings include a “multimodal transit hub” located near the pedestrian bridge linking Crystal City to Reagan National Airport, which Amazon has volunteered to help build as part of the project. It’s unclear where exactly the hub will be located.
The renderings also center around a second entrance for the Crystal City Metro station, an amenity long sought by the county but once seemed out of reach due to funding constraints. JBG Smith is currently working on a redevelopment of the area dubbed “Central District,” and those plans included a controversial proposal to build retail space over the new Metro entrance. New sketches suggest that the developer may push ahead with those plans, now that the construction of the second entrance is assured.
“The public and private sectors are currently investing billions of dollars in the National Landing area to improve infrastructure, expand on entertainment and retail options, enhance public spaces and introduce new/repositioned buildings,” Tracy Gabriel, president and executive director of the Crystal City Business Improvement District, wrote in a statement. “We believe that Amazon will help accelerate the transformation underway in Virginia’s largest walkable downtown, further growing and diversifying Crystal City’s economy, bolstering our already strong tech presence and attracting additional companies and investment.”
Also on the way for the area is a helipad, according to the county’s memorandum of understanding with the company.
“Arlington County staff will assist Amazon in its efforts to obtain required County Board, commonwealth and federal approvals for the development, construction, and operation (at the company’s expense)” of the project, according to the memo.
(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) After months of breathless speculation, Amazon has made it official and announced that it is coming to Arlington — but the county isn’t alone in winning the tech giant’s second headquarters.
The tech giant announced today (Tuesday) that it will split its $5 billion investment for an “HQ2” between Crystal City and Long Island City in Queens, confirming earlier reporting of the last-minute switch. Nashville will also receive 5,000 jobs as part of the arrangement.
A press conference has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Pentagon City.
Amazon will now set up roughly half of the new headquarters on a site in Crystal City a bid championed by state and county officials, as well as JBG Smith, the region’s biggest real estate owner.
In a press release, Amazon dubbed the site as “National Landing.” A county spokeswoman tells ARLnow that “National Landing” refers to the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard area, which together will make up the footprint of Amazon’s local campus. A map included in the announcement also refers to the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor as “Downtown Arlington.”
More from Amazon’s announcement:
As part of Amazon’s new headquarters, Virginia and Arlington will benefit from more than 25,000 full-time high-paying jobs; approximately $2.5 billion in Amazon investment; 4 million square feet of energy-efficient office space with the opportunity to expand to 8 million square feet; and an estimated incremental tax revenue of $3.2 billion over the next 20 years as a result of Amazon’s investment and job creation.
Amazon will receive performance-based direct incentives of $573 million based on the company creating 25,000 jobs with an average wage of over $150,000 in Arlington. This includes a workforce cash grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia of up to $550 million based on $22,000 for each job created over the next 12 years. Amazon will only receive this incentive if it creates the forecasted high-paying jobs. The company will also receive a cash grant from Arlington of $23 million over 15 years based on the incremental growth of the existing local Transient Occupancy Tax, a tax on hotel rooms.
The community and Amazon employees will benefit from the Commonwealth investing $195 million in infrastructure in the neighborhood, including improvements to the Crystal City and the Potomac Yards Metro stations; a pedestrian bridge connecting National Landing and Reagan National Airport; and work to improve safety, accessibility, and the pedestrian experience crossing Route 1 over the next 10 years. Arlington will also dedicate an estimated $28 million based on 12% of future property tax revenues earned from an existing Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district for on-site infrastructure and open space in National Landing.
“This is a big win for Virginia – I’m proud Amazon recognizes the tremendous assets the Commonwealth has to offer and plans to deepen its roots here,” said Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia. “Virginia put together a proposal for Amazon that we believe represents a new model of economic development for the 21st century, and I’m excited to say that our innovative approach was successful. The majority of Virginia’s partnership proposal consists of investments in our education and transportation infrastructure that will bolster the features that make Virginia so attractive: a strong and talented workforce, a stable and competitive business climate, and a world-class higher education system.”
“We are proud that Amazon has selected National Landing for a major new headquarters. This is, above all, a validation of our community’s commitment to sustainability, transit-oriented development, affordable housing, and diversity,” said Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “The strength of our workforce coupled with our proximity to the nation’s capital makes us an attractive business location. But Arlington’s real strength is the decades of planning that have produced one of the most vibrant, civically engaged communities in the world. Those plans have paved the way for this investment, and we look forward to engaging the Arlington community about Amazon’s plans and how we can grow together.”
JBG Smith owns huge swaths of property throughout the neighborhood, which was long thought to be a key factor in Arlington’s favor. The company has launched a new website in conjunction with the announcement: Nationallanding.com.
Crystal City’s high office vacancy rate, long a thorn in the side of county leaders that will now be alleviated virtually overnight, also provided plenty of open space for the company to work with as it plans a new campus.
While communities across the country were vying to earn HQ2 as part of an unusual public bidding process, the D.C. region was widely viewed as a favorite to earn Amazon’s new headquarters after the company listed Northern Virginia, Maryland and D.C. among its 20 finalists in January. Even still, the company announced late in the process that it would seek to split HQ2, noting that executives didn’t believe that any of the finalists had enough “tech talent” to fill the contemplated 50,000 jobs for the new offices.
Arlington was long viewed as a particularly strong contender after the county submitted both the Crystal City site and locations along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor for consideration. Amazon officials subsequently toured those locations this spring, and even linked many of its employees to a particular ARLnow article about the county’s environmental accolades.
With the decision finally made, Arlington officials will now have to grapple with the impact of the company’s arrival — especially now that the company won’t be bringing quite the same investment as it originally promised.
The rosiest estimates of HQ2’s impact suggest the company will create a “prosperity bomb” in the region, offering tens of thousands of high-paying jobs and filling up the coffers of local governments.
But many critics have spent months warning that HQ2’s arrival could exacerbate many of the problems already plaguing Arlington. They reason the arrival of so many wealthy Amazon workers could cause housing prices to skyrocket and make it virtually impossible for low-income people to afford to live in the area, or even strain the region’s already challenged transit systems.
Others still worry that the county has offered a series of lucrative tax breaks and cash incentives to the company, dampening whatever economic benefits HQ2 may offer — the county has steadfastly refused to offer any details of its offer to Amazon, as the company has sworn HQ2 bidders to secrecy. There’s also no telling if the county and state might look to revise its incentive offer, now that Amazon has split up HQ2.
County officials have long insisted that they’re prepared to meet these challenges, however, and with Apple still weighing its own move to Arlington, it seems quite likely that such conversations will dominate their attention in the coming months.
Arlington County and the City of Alexandria trumpeted the selection in a joint press release issued shortly after Amazon’s announcement.
The press release says Virginia Tech will now establish an “Innovation Campus” in Alexandria near the new headquarters, while Arlington and Alexandria public schools will “have access to new resources related to computer science education, to be made available statewide” and George Mason University’s campus in Virginia Square will expand. Also funded thanks to Amazon’s arrival: the long hoped-for second entrance to the Crystal City Metro station and a new High Line-like pedestrian bridge from Crystal City to Reagan National Airport.
Amazon.com, Inc, announced this morning that it has chosen Arlington County to establish a major new headquarters. Arlington and the City of Alexandria, after working together for the last year in a unique and unprecedented regional partnership, are announcing that Amazon will locate in National Landing, a newly branded neighborhood encompassing parts of Pentagon City and Crystal City in Arlington and Potomac Yard in Alexandria. The Commonwealth’s announcement also includes news of a new partnership with Virginia Tech to develop a revolutionary Innovation Campus to fill demand for high-tech talent in National Landing and beyond. […]
Specifically, for the National Landing proposal, Arlington and Alexandria partnered with property owner and developer JBG SMITH to present Amazon with a compelling 150-acre site – a mixture of existing vacant buildings and developable land – seamlessly connected by a robust transportation network, including three Metrorail stations and a commuter rail station, walking and biking paths. The National Landing proposal offers Amazon the opportunity to establish a major headquarters in a thriving, urban environment. The proposal to Amazon that was crafted by Arlington, Alexandria, JBG SMITH, VEDP, and others can be found online.
“We are incredibly pleased to partner with Amazon on their new headquarters,” said JBG SMITH CEO, Matt Kelly. “Their selection of National Landing is a fantastic outcome for the entire region and reflects the close collaboration between the JBG SMITH team and our partners in Arlington, Alexandria and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Amazon’s new home at National Landing builds on the strength and history of an established community with nearly 12 million square feet of existing office space and more than 13,000 residential units that also has exciting growth potential. JBG SMITH owns 6.2 million square feet of existing office space and 2.4 million square feet of existing multifamily, and controls 7.4 million square feet of estimated potential density in National Landing, excluding Amazon’s proposed land purchase. Amazon’s initial development plans focus on JBG SMITH-owned properties in Crystal City and Pentagon City in Arlington County, while the new Virginia Tech Innovation Campus will be developed in the Alexandria portion of the National Landing site. Amazon’s new headquarters and related investments are generally consistent with the communities’ adopted growth plans for the National Landing area in both Arlington and Alexandria, which envision high-density, mixed-use, transit-oriented development.
Virginia Tech Innovation Campus
In Alexandria’s portion of Potomac Yard, Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth intend to provide funding for an Innovation Campus near Amazon’s new headquarters to build a graduate campus in the southern portion of National Landing, specifically targeted at tech talent that will benefit all companies in the Commonwealth. The campus will house master’s and doctoral level programs that dovetail with the industry’s most pressing demands. Degree programs and research opportunities will focus on computer sciences and software engineering, while offering specializations in high-demand areas, including data sciences; analytics and collective decisions; security and the Internet of Things; and technology and policy. The campus will build on the growing innovation economy in Alexandria and Arlington, anchored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and now private sector companies like Amazon.
“Launching the Innovation Campus is a watershed moment for Virginia Tech and a great day for the Commonwealth we are committed to serve,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said. “As Virginia’s land-grant institution, we stepped up to claim our role of driving economic development by leveraging our strengths in technology and engineering and building on our strong partnerships in Washington, D.C. The Innovation Campus will bring together the highest-caliber students, world-class faculty, smart ideas and forward-thinking companies.”
Investments in the Community
K-12 and Higher Education: As part of the Commonwealth’s increased investment in the tech-talent pipeline, Arlington and Alexandria public schools will have access to new resources related to computer science education, to be made available statewide. They include: ongoing professional development for current and future teachers; high-quality curriculum and related resources; summer and after-school programming for students; and meaningful career exposure and work-based learning opportunities in high-demand fields.
George Mason University’s Arlington campus will also grow, taking advantage of new performance-based investments for new master’s degree programs in computer science and related fields.
Transportation: A review of available transportation services, facilities and associated capacity indicate that regional and local transit systems have significant unused capacity, even during peak travel periods. As a very transit-focused employer, Amazon is expected to help fill that existing capacity, with most employees utilizing public transit, walking, biking or carpooling each day.
To manage this planned growth, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria are investing $570 million in transportation projects, including rail connections, transit facilities, multi-modal streets and transportation technology serving the site, all of which were planned as part of Board- and Council-approved long-term Capital Improvement Plans. Arlington and Alexandria are also actively pursuing additional funding opportunities to advance investments in this corridor.
To augment these local investments, the Commonwealth will invest up to $195 million of non-general fund money in new or expanded transportation projects to improve mobility in the region, including an additional entrance to the Crystal City Metro station and a south entrance off of Potomac Avenue to the new Potomac Yard Metro station. Other projects include improvements to U.S. Route 1 in Arlington County, a pedestrian bridge from Crystal City to Reagan National Airport and a transitway expansion supporting Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard in both Alexandria and Arlington. Additional funding would be available if Amazon creates more than 25,000 jobs.
Housing: Amazon’s choice to locate in National Landing comes as the region is intensifying its efforts to increase housing capacity and making more investments in affordable housing. Arlington and Alexandria already have strong existing commitments to funding and supporting efforts to create, protect and preserve affordable and workforce housing. As part of this project announcement, both communities will fund affordable housing, workforce housing and public infrastructure, bolstered by revenues generated from Amazon’s new presence in their communities. Combined, the communities project investment of at least $150 million over the next decade, resulting in the creation and preservation of 2,000 to 2,400 affordable and workforce units in and around the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Columbia Pike areas and throughout Alexandria.
Arlington’s proposed direct financial incentive to Amazon is an annual pay-for-performance grant tied to the company meeting 6 million square feet in office occupancy targets over the initial 15 years with a value of approximately $23 million. The incentive comes from a percentage of the new incremental revenue generated by the County’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), which is a tax paid by tourists and business travelers on hotel rooms or other paid lodging.
In addition to direct financial incentives, Arlington County also proposed using a portion of new incremental revenue generated by Amazon’s arrival within the existing Tax Increment Financing (TIF) area to make strategic infrastructure investments in and around National Landing. The estimated new TIF revenue is projected to be $28m over a 10-year period.
The Arlington County Board will vote on a final incentive agreement no earlier than February 2019 and will follow its regular public engagement and hearing process for development decisions.
Immediately following Tuesday morning’s announcement, local lawmakers started issuing statements on the selection.
From Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.):
As a former Governor, now Senator, but also as a former technology executive, I’m really excited about the potential Amazon offers not only to Northern Virginia but the whole capital region and the entire Commonwealth. We’ve seen that major investments like these can bring not only thousands of direct jobs but also lead to job growth in other industries. As we welcome Amazon’s new investment in Virginia, we must commit to implementing this announcement in a way that will benefit the whole region and all of the Commonwealth.
From Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.):
I’m thrilled that our skilled workforce helped persuade Amazon to bring a major new headquarters and its tens of thousands of jobs to Virginia. Congratulations are in order to Governors McAuliffe and Northam and the local leaders who worked to ensure that this deal includes investments in our education and transportation infrastructure.”
While serving as Governor of Virginia, Kaine focused on job training and education and by the end of his term leading publications ranked Virginia the best state to raise a child and the Best State for Business. Kaine has been a vocal advocate for Amazon bringing HQ2 to Virginia.
From a lengthy press release issued by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.):
Amazon’s announcement that it will bring half of its HQ2 to Arlington is a validation of a generation’s worth of work to make northern Virginia an economic engine of the nation.
The Northern Virginia of my youth was a bedroom suburb of the nation’s capital. The Northern Virginia of today is an economic and cultural dynamo, on the leading edge of the technology revolution that is bettering lives around the world. This transformation involved leadership by all sectors — business, higher education, government, and community. […]
Congratulations to Governor Northam, and all my fellow Virginians, for winning a robust national competition. And congratulations to Amazon for selecting a very special community and region, ripe with diversity and promise.
From Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D):
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) November 13, 2018
Photo courtesy Crystal City BID
The long weekend is finally here, but the weather hasn’t exactly been all that welcoming.
While the rain soaking the region is set to clear out by the end of the night, the forecast calls for temperatures to drop quite low indeed for Veterans Day weekend.
And don’t forget to catch up on our most popular stories of the past week:
- Police Arrest Stafford Man After Homicide in Crystal City Hotel
- De Ferranti Bests Vihstadt for County Board, Amidst Democratic Sweep in Arlington
- Sichuan Wok in Ballston Appears to Have Closed
- Punch Bowl Social Looks Set to Open in Ballston Quarter Next Month
- Westmont Shopping Center on Columbia Pike Could Soon Be Torn Down, Redeveloped
Head down to the comments to discuss these stories, your holiday weekend plans or anything else local. Enjoy!
Flickr pool photo via Tom Mockler
Barley Mac is earning high marks from diners these days for perhaps the best possible reason — one patron says a waiter at the Rosslyn restaurant saved her life a few months back.
A woman with the Yelp username “Taylor E.” posted a review of the eatery last Thursday (Nov. 1), awarding Barley Mac a full five stars not only for a quality meal, but in commemoration of the time a server at the restaurant saved her from choking on a particularly large piece of cauliflower.
“I immediately stood up and began to choke, needing immediate [Heimlich] assistance,” she wrote. “The waiter immediately ran to me and gave me the proper assistance and saved me from passing out. He was so helpful and really was prepared for the situation at hand.”
Milos Mihajlovic, now a manager at Barley Mac, says he remembers the incident quite well — after all, it isn’t often he gets a chance to save a life. He estimates it happened around lunchtime five or six months ago, when he was still waiting tables at the restaurant.
“I was taking care of another table right next to it, and everyone stepped away from the table and started screaming,” Mihajlovic told ARLnow. “The girl was in tears and her friends were yelling that she couldn’t breathe.”
Luckily, Mihajlovic once worked as a lifeguard, so he says he was no stranger to the Heimlich maneuver. Between that and the training he received upon starting at Barley Mac, he says he was able to get Taylor breathing again after just a few seconds.
“It was this huge piece of cauliflower that got stuck in her throat,” Mihajlovic said. “She started crying after that and was so thankful… and all her friends left a very generous tip.”
Mihajlovic says he’s even seen Taylor return to the restaurant since that fateful day, so it would seem the incident hasn’t dissuaded her from returning to Barley Mac. He adds that it’s not exactly commonplace to need to leap into action as he did with her, but he’s been sure to be vigilant ever since.
“We always tell our servers to always it have on their mind that if something like that happens, you need to be there to help,” Mihajlovic said.
Expect major delays on Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines this holiday weekend, as the rail service is shutting down both the Crystal City and Reagan National Airport stations to allow for some major construction work.
Starting today (Friday) and running through Monday, Metro will run shuttle buses between the Pentagon City and Braddock Road stations to compensate for the closures. Trains will operate on substantially extended headways as well, particularly on Saturday and Sunday, and Metro is warning of heavy delays across the two lines.
Metro plans to upgrade several switches leading up to the airport station, as well as “install new concrete grout pads beneath the rails along the aerial structure there,” according to a press release.
Full details from the release:
On Friday & Monday:
- Blue Line trains will operate in two segments: between Franconia-Springfield & Braddock Road every 12 minutes during daytime hours and between Pentagon City & Largo Town Center every 12-16 minutes.
- Yellow Line trains will operate in two segments: between Huntington & Braddock Road every 12 minutes during daytime hours and between Pentagon City & Mt Vernon Square every 12-16 minutes.
- Buses will replace trains between Braddock Rd, National Airport, Crystal City and Pentagon City. Additional Express shuttle buses will operate between Braddock Road and Pentagon City from 5 a.m. – 8 p.m. and between Franconia-Springfield and Pentagon from 5 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Rush Hour Promise will not be in effect for trips on the Yellow and Blue lines on Friday, November 9, but will remain in effect for customers on other lines.
On Saturday & Sunday:
- Blue Line trains will operate in two segments: between Franconia-Springfield & Braddock Road every 12-15 minutes during daytime hours and between Pentagon City & Eastern Market every 24 minutes all day.
- Yellow Line trains will operate in two segments: between Huntington & Braddock Road every 12-15 minutes during daytime hours and between Pentagon City & Mt Vernon Square every 24 minutes all day.
- Buses will replace trains between Braddock Rd, National Airport, Crystal City and Pentagon City. Additional express shuttle buses will operate between Braddock Rd and Pentagon City from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Saturday and from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Metro scheduled the shutdown for Veterans Day weekend, after originally planning it for last weekend, in order to reduce the impact on commuters. However, some stations still saw big crowds on Friday as people adjusted to the closures:
— Marisha Sherry (@MarishaGSherry) November 9, 2018
Metro recommends that commuters turn to local bus service if possible, or even VRE train service between Franconia-Springfield, Crystal City or King Street in order to reach L’Enfant Plaza or Union Station.
Anyone heading to DCA this weekend may also want to allow for extra time. The airport is already facing transportation challenges associated with “Project Journey,” major renovations primarily impacting Terminal B/C, and the Metro closure could worsen those conditions substantially.
— Adam Tuss (@AdamTuss) November 7, 2018
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The Old Glebe Civic Association is eyeing an expansion, planning to scoop up a few additional streets from neighboring Country Club Hills.
The group is currently hoping to add about three blocks to its boundaries, targeting homes that aren’t currently part of any civic association. In particular, the OGCA is looking at adding homes along Dittmar Road as it meets 35th Street N., N. Abingdon Street as it meets 36th Street N. and two cul-de-sacs off N. Vermont Street (one on 35th Road N. and one on 36th Street N.).
OGCA President Rich Samp told ARLnow that those streets are “one of the few areas in the whole county not included in any civic association,” after residents there decided decades ago decided not to join one. But considering that the streets sit adjacent to Old Glebe’s current boundaries, with part of Dittmar Road already ensconced within the civic association, Samp felt it made sense to push for the minor expansion.
“It’s a good idea to have all the neighborhoods in Arlington engaged with the local community… and we’re always trying to do things to make the neighborhood more cohesive,” Samp said. “And having entire streets, such as all of Dittmar Road, in the civic association probably helps to create more of a cohesive neighborhood sense.”
Samp says civic association members started knocking doors in the proposed expansion area a few weeks back to gauge neighbors’ feelings on the mater, and the reaction was broadly “positive.”
“The worst we heard was that some people expressed indifference, but the majority view was, ‘We’d love to join,'” Samp said.
The Arlington County Civic Federation requires civic associations to collect signatures to kick off the expansion process, so Samp says his group did just that. Now, he’ll need to win a green light from from both the civic federation and, eventually, the County Board to make it official.
“I don’t have a great sense for how long it’ll take,” Samp said. “But knowing how slowly the wheels of our group, and the government generally, turn, it’ll probably be a couple of months.”
Samp admitted that adding these neighborhoods is “hardly an earth-shattering step” for his group, but he does hope it can be the first expansion of many to come for the civic association.
“To go to more homes, it would’ve taken just huge amount of canvassing,” Samp said. “So we thought this would be a nice way to start it.”
Photo via the Old Glebe Civic Association